Bison Star Naturals has been making their fragrant and sustainable products since 2013 in Taos. The company's beautiful soaps in the shapes of shells, hearts and buffalos are available for purchase at the Taos Farmers Market .
Recently, owners Jacquelene and Angelo McHorse took a break from the business to welcome daughter Judy into their lives. Judy is now a bit over a year old, and the McHorses are back at it, making not only their soaps, but also new products, such as hand and body lotions in a calming lavender and a sage pine scent that smells like the earth of New Mexico after a rain.
In harmony with nature
"We work with the seasons and now is the time to pick wild rose petals, sage and mint," explained Jacquelene McHorse. "We wild harvest on family land at the Pueblo and grow plants in our garden at home. We also gather from other places like Arroyo Hondo for mint, and we get our lavender from the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu."
Angelo McHorse is from Taos Pueblo and the family lives there. The pueblo community has been supportive, and Bison Star Naturals has participated in Oo-Oo-Nah Arts and Crafts Fair.
On a recent warm morning, the family was setting off to pick wild rose petals.
After the rose petals are gathered, they are dried and mixed with charcoal to make a unique black soap that is deeply cleansing and removes impurities from the skin. The petals are also used in the Mountain Springs Bath Salts.
"We don't overharvest any plant. You can't tell we've been picking in a particular spot. We leave some rose petals for rose hips in the fall that we use for tea. Sustainable practices are very important to us," says Jacquelene.
Using local and wild products and doing so in an ecologically sensitive way, she explains, is part of their overall value system. The McHorses are dedicated to eating local foods and to using natural resources for products they use themselves and make for others. She adds, "When you consume foods or products made with locally grown ingredients, the difference is clear. These local ingredients carry with them memories of the land on which they were grown, which is truly nourishing."
In the fall, they will harvest flowers, such as marigolds from the garden and chamomile from the garden and in the wild. Their cedar soap made with marigolds was sold out and more will be available this week using marigolds saved from last year.
Locally sourced and luxurious
Angelo McHorse explains that their soaps, salts and lotions are as natural as possible without sacrificing luxurious quality. "When Jacquelene first looked for natural products, she didn't find any that met her needs, so she began to make her own soap and then lotion. I'm proud of her dedication."
The products are scented with pure essential oils that are locally sourced. Naturally derived emulsifiers and thickeners, such as coconut and jojoba oil make the lotion feel light, moisturizing and refreshing in the hot dry weather.
By end of the summer, Bison Star Naturals plans to introduce liquid soap made with yucca root in lavender and sage pine scents. "We are looking forward to having the liquid soap and eventually a full suite of products, including shampoo and conditioners," says Angelo.
In addition to the Taos Farmers Market, the Bison Star products can be found locally at Cid's Food Market and Manzanita Market on Taos Plaza. The McHorses have also taken them to trade shows in Colorado and California and plan to travel back to Colorado and to Texas this year. Their soaps and lotions can also be found at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center gift shop in Albuquerque.
A natural life
Although running your own business requires hard work and long hours, for the McHorse family, it also allows them to have freedom and flexibility. "Being entrepreneurs lets us spend time with Judy. We are with her all the time and feel very fortunate to be all together during her formative years," says Angelo.
The family focuses on growing their own food at home in the garden that produce plants for their products. They grow salad vegetables and herbs, along with a salsa garden. "We are happy to have a natural focus and be able to raise Judy that way. She was born at home," the couple explains. "When we wild harvest, we make a day of it. Judy comes along and we have a picnic. We feel really blessed to have this opportunity."
The family is also happy to have a supportive community at the Taos Farmers Market. Several market vendors have young children and they are excited that Judy will grow up with those children.
Advice for entrepreneurs
To people just starting out with a business idea that they are passionate about, Jacquelene says, "Go after your vision and have patience with it."
Angelo adds, "You have to be self-motivated. There is nobody to tell you what to do; you have to have discipline to get your work done."
The couple agrees that you work harder than if you were at a 40-hour-per-week job because the tasks you want to do for the business are endless. But they have no regrets about putting their passion into a good business and a good life for their family.
In addition to the Taos Farmers Market, Cid's and Manzanita Market, look for Bison Star Naturals at the Herb and Lavender Festival June 16 and 17 and at the Harvest Festival October 6-7 at Las Golondrinas in Santa Fe.
Visit the website at bisonstarnaturals.com and find them on Facebook and Instagram for news on events and products.